5 Ways to Add Impact to Your Hedge Fund Pitch Book

Action, Reaction.

Hedgeweek brings us a simple, five-point preflight checklist for creating pitch books that effective hedge fund portfolio managers never miss.

We’re of course a fan of #4 — Look the Part. Meaning, bring a killer pitchbook to your meetings.

There are five ways to improve the impact of your hedge fund pitch book with institutional allocators, according to JD David, partner and chief operating officer at Meyler Capital.

David says: “We produce a fair amount of marketing collateral… and in the process have exposure to a lot of manager material. While one can argue whether or not a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ approach exists to building a marketing deck, there is a compelling case to be made that there is definitely a ‘better’ and ‘worse’.”   In conversations with allocators, the deck’s primary purpose is to address some very straight forward questions.   “Unfortunately, many managers we interact with end up treating the deck like a DDQ and pack it full of information. As if somehow, adding more words makes it more ‘institutional.’”

Here’s a quick breakdown of the main points from this excellent article:

1. Eliminate the extraneous – The marketing deck is just one step in a long communication process. From a marketing perspective, the deck isn’t designed to “sell” your fund, it’s designed to help advance the dialogue.

2. Speak English – Industry vernacular can be necessary in order to effectively communicate certain points of your message, but syllable counts shouldn’t get confused with sophistication.

3. Make a statement – This is actually the easiest hack of all, but sadly, the hardest to convince people to incorporate into a deck.

4. Look the part – From oil well firefighter, Red Adair: ‘If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur’.

5. Practice – There is not a professional presenter in the world that gets up in front of an audience without a boatload of practice.


Read more at hedgeweek.com


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Get in touch with Launch Module Media if you’re working on a pitch or business development / marketing initiative. We’d like to hear from you.


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14 Steps to Take the ‘No Thanks’ out of Your Investor Pitch

‘No Thanks’ is the most common result of venture capital meetings

Sucks but it’s true. VCs are a lot like pro sports clubs. It costs them little to check out schools (incubators), sports camps (tech conferences), and the old fashioned newspaper. It’s in their interest to keep as many prospects on the radar scope as possible. But they will commit financially to an extremely lean percentage.


Do you have a project?

Get in touch with Launch Module Media if you’re working on a pitch or business development / marketing initiative. We’d like to hear from you.

So if you’ve got a startup . . .

and you’ve met an investor and she hears your 15-second pitch and says “Sounds great, let’s meet and take a look at your pitch deck” — good right?

Well, it’s better than “Sorry, not interested.” But it doesn’t mean a lot 99% of the time.

Startups in the early stage — pre-revenue, bootstrap, with some friends and family or angel capital — can benefit from some great advice from David Ehrenberg, Founder and CEO of Early Growth Financial Services, excerpted here:

A Potential Investor Says ‘No’ To Your Startup — Now What?

You have done all of your homework. You researched the investor you are pitching. You properly prepared your financials. You practiced and perfected your presentation. Most importantly, you landed a coveted meeting with your target investor. After the meeting is over, the investor passes on your idea. What do you do?

I work with founders and entrepreneurs regularly to prepare them for fundraising. It’s not just about putting together a good elevator pitch. When it comes time for a meeting, founders should make sure their pitch deck is clear and succinct. They need to have the proper financial statements assembled. And finally, they need to speak competently and confidently about the future of their business.

But even with proper preparations and a killer presentation, you may not be able to convince your target to buy in. Read more at forbes.com.

But while this is a nice article for the post-‘No’ letdown and ‘Win or Learn’ set (where a loss is a learning moment, not a bad thing) — what about before the meeting? Did you really prep for it? How many rejections can your startup afford before the burn rate closes in and shuts you down?

Are there some things you can do to go in to an investor meet with a stronger fighting chance? Here are a few things to consider:

The Pitch Deck

1. Unless you are in Series A or later (~$2.5M+), keep it short. 10 content slides and a cover.

2. Google “investor pitch deck template.” Grab a few free blanks, example templates, real world decks like AirBnB’s. Read and examine them carefully. Then throw them in the garbage can.

3. From your research, construct a slide outline not exceeding 12 slides.

4. Work the narrative. Find market data. Work your vision statement or Big Idea. Make bold projections. Cite and support them as much as possible. Talk about your founding team. Talk about what they’ve done in the real world. What they will do in your startup in a projected simulation of the future — no one cares.

5. Hire a designer if you have a couple of few grand to spend. If you have $500, do the work yourself and take the team out for a strategy dinner instead.

The Meeting

6. Allow plenty of travel time. Arrive early. Keep the rhetorical chit chat to a minimum. (The writer of this post sucks at this.)

7. In advance of the meet, rehearse your pitch (using the deck as a guide, not a script) in front of your founding team and advisors.

8. Rehearse your pitch in front of friends and family.

9. Rehearse your pitch in front of 3 people who don’t like you and whom you don’t like. Our enemies teach us more than our friends.

10. Rehearse your pitch in front of 5 perfect strangers. Airports are perfect. You are allowed to buy drinks for persuasion but don’t give away equity points.

11. Dress well. If you wear shineable shoes, shine them. Or better yet have them shined. Do not forget to dress the edges.

12. Do your tech diligence. It’s better to show with nicely printed and bound decks than to waste precious minutes fracking about with laptops and overhead projection. Be cool. Be confident. Pursue an air of inevitability. Check your watch at the end. (You have another meeting scheduled). At the appointed time, leave at once.

The Book(s)

13. Read Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff.

14. There are legions of other startup books out there. Read them. Learn to treat your startup as a business, not a charity, from the outset. Do good with your coveted capital.

You are the new stock market. Get out there and save the world with your genius. The cure for global warming will be a startup. The space race is all startups all the way up. Drinking water for the Third World. Startups. You get the picture.



✍ Erik Johnson is the founder and director of Launch Module Media based in New York City.

Featured image via Shutterstock and select article content courtesy of forbes.com.

CAVU Venture Partners $160mm Fund Flying High with ‘Smart Money’ on CPG Startups

Launch Module Media Client CAVU Ventures have accelerated from concept to cruising altitude with clear skies ahead.

The Launch Module team produced an investor presentation for the CAVU Venture Partners $160mm fund in 2015 and we are amped to see these Consumer Packaged Goods industry experts driving healthy food and drink brands effectively to market.


Do you have a project?

Get in touch with Launch Module Media if you’re working on a pitch or business development / marketing initiative. We’d like to hear from you.

Following is some of the latest on CAVU Ventures’ action in the ‘challenger brands’ CPG space, kicking it off with a profile in Fortune:

Deep Eddy Vodka Founder Forms VC Firm with Former Coke Exec – Fortune


Last summer, Clayton Christopher wanted a new challenge. He had just sold his 5-year-old Deep Eddy Vodka business to a Kentucky distiller for nearly $400 million, and was still sitting on plenty of cash from his previous beverage venture—Sweet Leaf Tea Co., which had been acquired by Nestlé.

“I had been a pretty active independent investor in food and beverage brands for a while, and had started to think about having more of a formalized fund where I could have more say and influence,” says Christopher, who had originally launched Sweet Leaf Tea with the $14,000 he had in a savings account. “So I began brainstorming with Rohan and Brett.”

That would be Rohan Oza, a former Coca-Cola executive who went on to help build Vitaminwater, which later was acquired by Coca-Cola; and Brett Thomas, former managing member at investment firm Thematic Capital Partners. The pair had been talking on and off for several years about creating an investment platform for the consumer products market, but also felt that they needed a successful entrepreneur who would appeal to other entrepreneurs.

“We’ve nicknamed Brett ‘The Hunter’ because he goes out and sources the best deals,” explains Oza, who was profiled by Fortune in 2014. “In this case, his ‘deal’ was to bring me and Clayton together.” Read more at fortune.com.


Monica Watrous of Food Business News produced a great overview article here:

CAVU Venture Partners flying high – Food Business News

AUSTIN, TEXAS — Operators first, investors second. That’s the mantra of CAVU Venture Partners, a recently launched investment firm co-founded by three food and beverage industry veterans with a focus on better-for-you consumer brands. Investments have included Bai, Health-Ade Kombucha and Chef’s Cut Real Jerky. The name CAVU comes from a pilot’s term, “ceiling and visibility unlimited,” which means perfect flying conditions.

“What we look for is a passionate entrepreneur that has a learners’ mind-set versus a knower’s mind-set,” Mr. Christopher said. “Knowers scare me. Because I used to be one once, and they’re really dangerous to their business.”

“That’s really what we aspire to bring to our partners and the companies we invest in,” said Clayton Christopher, co-founder and partner of CAVU Venture Partners. “One of the things that I see too often is a lot of entrepreneurs are getting capital, but they’re not getting smart capital.” Read more at foodbusinessnews.net.


Even Beyoncé is in on the healthy CPG action as an investor:

Has Beyoncé discovered the next coconut water? – MarketWatch


The 20-time Grammy winner announced this week she is becoming a “meaningful” equity holder in a three-year-old startup that makes cold-pressed watermelon water called WTRMLN WTR. At a time when soda sales are declining while sales of bottled and flavored waters are exploding, it may turn out to be a smart business move for the former Pepsi spokeswoman. PEP, +0.38%.

Consumers in the U.S. are more health-conscious than before and willing to spend on healthy options, said Eric Penicka, a research analyst at Euromonitor International, a market-research firm.

Her latest venture seems like it’s positioned well. Sales of bottled flavored water grew more than 400% to $917.1 million in 2015 from $174.8 million in 2001, according to Euromonitor International, a market-research firm. Sales of regular bottled water are far higher: They grew 92% to $15.9 billion in 2015 from $8.3 billion in 2001, at the same time when the market for soda has shrunk. (WTRMLN WTR’s website states it doesn’t add any water to its product; the beverage is cold-pressed watermelon with some organic lemon juice). Read more at marketwatch.com.


Here’s what’s happening with some of CAVU Venture Partners portfolio brands on social. Beyoncé? Who knew?

Pitch, Meet, Close. Launch Module Media and the Art of Staying Out of the Way

So, in closing, here’s an example of three dynamic founders who could pretty much walk into a room and raise $100mm together. That was the objective when we began working on their investor pitch deck. Look at the track record. Feature past successes. Explore synergies. Keep things visually clean and simple. Refine and clarify the arguments for the capital raise. Deliver. A $100mm objective becomes $160mm, just like that. Snap.


✍ Erik Johnson is the founder and director of Launch Module Media based in New York City.

Images and select article content courtesy of fortune.com, foodbusinessnews.net, qualityassurancemag.com, twitter.com.

Presentations are changing — but it’s not about software | Part 2 of 2


*Update 05/05/15 — This Article was featured in LinkedIn’s Public Speaking and Presenting Channel

Communicating with other tribes

Something I’ve learned from a Web and SEO expert is that people don’t read Websites anymore. Only Google reads Websites. People bounce on and off Websites, rapidly scanning for something specific they’re searching for. So yea, everything is icons. IKEA instruction booklets are all pictograms and no text at all. Is that to save money on translating a few paragraphs of copy into maybe 20 languages? I’m thinking not.

In presentations, we have all these dogmatic pronouncements among people who try to do this for a living — Avoid Death by PowerPoint by having no copy below 30pt and only one talking point on each slide, and have a giant stock photo on every slide. No bullets — bullets are for amateurs, etc.

OK. If I’m a marketing and communications or sales director, or a hedge fund managing partner, these kinds of rules have no basis in my World. Many, many sales presentations, investor decks, and pitch books are still printed and bound for meetings. If there’s no text, OR ALL THE WORDS ARE HUGE, it’s pretty silly to imagine putting that in front of a sophisticated buyer, strategic partner, or institutional investor.

Signal to noise factor

So, here’s a bit of heresy for you: It’s OK if your presentation has text in it that might not be read. In fact, that’s ideal.

Why? Consider the famous Pareto Principle. Used as a metric probably in every business school in the World. I’m pretty sure my first exposure to it was in Tim Ferriss’ seminal Four Hour Workweek. It’s the 80/20 rule. 20 percent of any system — whether it’s bean pods or a sports team — yields 80 percent of the result, or harvest, or return. If you’re running a business, 20 percent of your clientele bring in 80 percent of your revenue. So, focus on the 20 always. You don’t have to neglect the 80. But you need to expect that 1 in 5 are your gold. 20 percent can also be enough to disrupt a whole. In Five to One, I know Jim Morrison wasn’t talking about business, but he was a mythologist to be sure, and he knew that number.

You cannot escape how difficult it is to pitch effectively. You can figuratively throw mud all day long at your PC or Mac and proclaim loudly that PowerPoint sucks. You can try another app. You can take your same half-formed thoughts and put them in a zooming Prezi and maybe gain an extra 5% attention for the sake of novelty. But you can’t get around the reality that you must tell a story.

So you go to the movies. You see the latest Marvel spectacle. You’re entertained. Maybe even moved. How much do you remember after? Does it matter? When you present, what if you walk in that meeting, or onto that stage, and say ‘Relax — just nail the 20 percent and you’ve got them.’ What if that’s true?

Present 100 percent. Key on 20 percent. Breeze through the other eighty.

Your pitch audiences are not cave people. Your investors are not hairy thugs with clubs. Your strategic partners are not illiterate. PowerPoint decidedly does not suck.

If we find beauty and meaning in 5,000 year old cave paintings. If we are mystified and amazed by the pyramids in Egypt and Mayan Meso-America. If we look at the stars and wonder about the symbols there. Then should we be surprised that our love affair with words without pictures was historically brief? About 500 years really. And, largely, over.

An argument for integral presentations

How have presentations changed then? The ones that really work integrate all levels of human communication. They speak to different learning styles. They may be multimedia. Or they may be just printed and bound. The great presentations aren’t just awesome Apple Keynote product launches. They can happen anywhere. A movie studio pitch in Burbank. A sales event in Des Moines. A coding conference in Mumbai. The great ones cover the appropriate bases, make all the necessary points, and then have bright seeds of insight spread throughout. A bold statement here. A unique graphic there. The great presentations might pick a fight. Or make an impossible argument. Like John F. Kennedy’s ‘We choose to go to the Moon in this decade.’

Presentations are not software. They are not a thing. They are ideas. Stories. They are human. And, even if mostly visual, they are still language. Presentations are changing in the way a river changes. They may follow the same course for centuries. But all the water is new. In each and every moment.


Erik Johnson develops and designs presentations for HiFinal in New York.

Photo credit: Pinterest, user Soothsayer.

Presentations are changing — but it’s not about software | Part 1 of 2

presentations are changing communication design software

Am I alone in noticing that we as a culture appear to be reverting to communicating like cave dwellers?

When I see operating system icons overlaid in my mind on ancient stone, am I receiving special solo enlightenment like the apes in the intro to 2001: A Space Odyssey?

Doubtful. I’m pretty sure there are some very smart PhDs in linguistics and anthropology looking at this. Where we used to read, we now look to pictographs, icons, even cartoons, for our information. Hey, cartoons are cool. Animation is very cool. And communicating this way definitely has its place in business.

So, is this development? Growth? Advancement? Or are we getting less literate?

When we see something that recalls the past, it’s easy to get into what Ken Wilber refers to as the ‘pre-trans fallacy.’ I’m not smart enough to synthesize his work here — but basically it means that, depending on our own level of consciousness, we can easily confuse a higher tier of development with something traditional, even ancient, if they have similarities. Or on the flip side, we can confuse something from a magical era as something very advanced and ultra-post-modern. I have definitely fallen into that trap during my years of interest in tribal shamanism. There is a pure, romantic beauty to Native American heritage, for example. But while an integral thinker like Wilber would embrace and give his love to that history, he would assert that a highly-practiced meditator in 2015, say at a turquoise / high-2nd tier level on a spiral dynamics chart is at a higher level of consciousness and social development.

Short on attention? Or just long on information and noise?

There is this idea now that people have shorter attention spans. I don’t believe this is true at all. In fact I think people have superior attention than they did 10 years ago before the rise of mobile. People with a computer and a smart phone (and tablet, and smart watch) today are processing through insane amounts of information at radically increasing pace. Does this mean they pay less attention to individual batches of information (content, if you like)? Yes. Does that mean that they have reduced capacity for attention? No, absolutely not. People still sit through 90-minute movies at the theater, mostly with phones off. That format hasn’t changed in 100 years and it still works. More and more attend yoga classes and meditate — the ultimate test of attention. We do not have deficits of attention. We have deficits of compelling information, perhaps, and a lot of noise to sift through.

What does this all have to do with presentations then?

Everything. Let’s say you’re a startup founder trying to get some investor interest. Maybe you’ve isolated 20 venture capital funds that are in your space and you’ve got some email addresses and perhaps a slightly warm referral or introduction. So you ship them a 12-slide investor deck as an attachment to a first email. What do you think will happen there? Best case scenario is they don’t respond and forget you because that is an outrageous way to approach. In 2010, maybe OK. In 2015? No, never. Is that a knock on VCs? Not at all. Are they in some cases notoriously unapproachable and difficult? Of course. Wouldn’t you be if everybody with an idea and a half-baked PowerPoint presentation wanted your attention and your money? What if there is a smarter, stronger, more cunning way to get through the gate?

Let’s revisit the cave paintings. Why did our earliest ancestors use symbols and glyphs to record their stories? Did they not have language? (Terence McKenna famously stated that ‘the World is made of language.’) OK, no they did not have books or wordy dialects. But they most certainly had language. Even primates and parakeets have linguistic ability.

What if the cave paintings were meant to be communicated to those not in their tribe? Certainly they were meant to be seen in the future. Otherwise why not paint them on rocks out in the elements?

I’m not talking about sending an IKEA instruction manual to an investor made of drawings and no data charts and no copy. I’m talking about starting a dialogue with material that immediately and instantly conveys your message, visually. And I’m talking about making presentations shorter and faster. It’s the only way to reach someone not in your tribe. And it will make your presentation and pitch better for friends and colleagues too.

Part 2 to follow.


Erik Johnson develops and designs presentations for HiFinal in New York.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, user Mariano.

Inktank: Driving valuation with brand equity and community

Inktank driving valuation with brand equity and community

When we started working for Inktank, they told us they wanted to be the Red Hat of storage. Now, as it turns out, they are the storage of Red Hat, and that’s just as good.

In Summer of 2013, Inktank was a dynamic young startup with an expensive suite of branded marketing products that were not useful to them. Launch Module Media worked with the existing brand system, and quickly took it in a bolder, more updated and functional direction. Working closely with Inktank product and marketing leadership, Launch Module designed new investor and sales presentations, overview datasheets, Web visuals and iconography, and brandings for Inktank’s signature products Inktank Ceph Enterprise v1.2 and Inktank University. In May 2014, Red Hat, Inc. acquired Inktank for $175 million. Inktank by Red Hat, Inc. continues to change the radically expanding world of software-defined storage.

Inktank by Red Hat presentation logo design

From TechCrunch:

Red Hat Buys Inktank For $175M In Cash To Beef Up Its Cloud Storage Offerings

“[Inktank has] built an incredibly vibrant community that will continue to be nurtured as we work together to make open the de facto choice for software-defined storage,” said Brian Stevens, executive vice president and CTO, Red Hat, in a statement. “Inktank has done a brilliant job assembling a strong ecosystem around Ceph and we look forward to expanding on this success together. The strength of these world-class open storage technologies will offer compelling capability as customers move to software-based scale-out storage systems.”

Inktank, based in San Francisco, had raised some $14.4 million since opening for business in 2012, with investors including Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth, and New Dream Network, owners of the cloud hosting company DreamHost. New Dream Network was co-founded by Sage Weil, the CTO and founder of Inktank. Weil was also the person behind the development of Ceph. What the deal will mean for Inktank is the opportunity to grow its product with more direct integration with Red Hat’s other open source products.

All in all, a pretty amazing result from our favorite Client so far.